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Category Archives: Performers 2012

Youth Discoveries Paisley!

It was a most exciting day at Back Eddie’s in Paisley for the third round of the Youth Discoveries Preliminaries.

We’d like to thanks the judges- Tara MacKenzie, Coco Love Alcorn and Beth Hamilton. Thanks as well to Trev Mackenzie for sound and to Back Eddie’s for being such gracious hosts.

We’d also like to thank all the performers-Cassie Dasilva, Andrew Nunno, Joel Blackshaw, Adam Crossman, Mac ‘n the Boys, Juckanoo. Everybody played like pro’s and the jusdges had a hard choice to make as always.

The three winners from today’s preliminary are Adam Crossman, , Mac ‘n the Boys and Cassie Dasilva.Youth Discoveries Paisley

The judges also picked the three wild card contestants. They are Emily Flack, Mackenzie McRuer and Jayden Grahlman.


April is all about Discovery

For the next 4 weeks, we’re all about the youth Discoveries.Coming up in less than a week -first preliminary in the Georgian Bay Folk Society’s Youth Discoveries program.

Starting at 2 on Sunday the 7th of April, some of Owen Sound’s best will be playing at the Owen Sound Public Library. April 14th brings the Discoveries showcase to the Meaford Hall, Meaford. April 21st it’s Paisley’s turn at Back Eddie’s

The finals on April 28th at the Roxy Theatre will award spots at Summerfolk to 5 deserving performers- but Discoveries is about much more. It’s about building connections in the musical community. Many of the participants in Youth Discoveries find like minded performers-they gain stage experience and the opportunity to access a unique group of mentors and coaches. It’s all about taking the first steps towards a life in music.

The winners will be joining a performers roster that includes The Proclaimers, Kathleen Edwards, Vance Gilbert and more.

Come out and support them and find your new favourites!

All the info you need can be found right here!



Deadline for Earlybird tickets, Sunday March 31

Just a reminder that the deadline for Earlybird tickets is this Sunday, the 31st of March. They are a fantastic deal. Really.

You can still order your passes  on line.

The Proclaimers, Kathleen Edwards, Fred Penner, The Bills are just a few of the acts we’re pleased to be presenting this year-and a few more to be added yet. The roster so far can be found here. You’ll find links to video, Bios and links to the performers websites

You can also double your fun by picking up a pass for Tall Ships Owen Sound. There’s some beautiful canvas on the way.

Just head over here to the ticket page.


Sun Times Articles 2012 – part 8

James Keelaghan wrote a series of articles for the Owen Sound Sun Times last year as part of the lead up to Summerfolk.

July 25

I played my first paying gig at seventeen in a folk club in Claresholm, about an hour south of Calgary. After that I played as regularly as I could. Luckily, Calgary was rich in places to play in those days.

I had a regular gig at a place called the Kensington Delicafe. I played three hours a night Thursday, Friday and Saturday-it largely paid my way though University. There was a guy who used to come in for his deli-burger, a bass player named Bill Eaglesham, he was tall and wiry, with piercing blue eyes. I knew him from the local scene. During my sets he would watch me but not once did he ever applaud. My mission became getting some kind of reaction out of him.

I never did. I ended up hiring him as my bass player on my first national tour instead. For the next three years Bill and my other player, Gary Bird, whipped me into shape. Today we would call it mentoring. Back then we just lived by the adage that the best way to get good was to play with people who were better than you.
I did not emerge fully formed as a musician, no musician ever does. Learning to be a performer is a long process-the only way you learn is by playing.

The four finalists from this year’s Youth Discoveries program are already on that road. Youth Discoveries is an initiative of the Georgian Bay Folk Society and is sponsored by Bruce Power and the Dock 92.3 FM. The four acts were chosen from thirty-six who showcased for the opportunity to appear at the  37th annual Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival.

Amy Carson Hunter is the performer most likely to make you impulsively hold hands with whoever is next to you. She’s from Toronto, but like many of this year’s Discoveries hopefuls, she maIMG_0068de the trek north in the hope of winning a spot at the festival and the judges were duly impressed. Her voice sounds too mature to come from someone so young. It hovers somewhere in the dusky zone. She also writes and performs with a maturity and poise that any performer would be envious of.

Mad Casper didn’t travel as far as Amy. Simon Kaarid, Tristan Kaarid, Dan White  Erik Wagenaar come from right here in Owen Sound. When I first heard them it took my mind back to a workshop I played with Gil Scott Heron at the Calgary Folk Festival.
Gil’s songs, particularly The Revolution YDMadCasperWill Not Be Televised, paved the way for rap music. It’s been argued that Gil was the first rap artist. What was he doing at a folk festival?
All you had to do was listen to get it. The lyrics were politically charged and relevant. The music was played acoustically on piano, upright bass and percussion. If Gil wasn’t folk music, what was?
Mad Casper has the same sensibility-a story to tell against a solid back beat. It’s a mix of hip hop, dub poetry with an acoustic instrumental edge. The lyrics sung in a cadenced and measured staccato are political, sincere and relevant.
Chris Strazz comes from Woodbridge. He sings with a high reedy tenor and has a great sense of amtosphere. He is slightly bluesy with an undeniably great rhythm guitar style. Chris is blessed with a quick smile and a comfortable attitude that is disarming. If  Carson Hunter is the dark and sultry, Chris is the guy who’s going to send you down the street whistling. Of all our Discovery finalists I would peg him as the guy most likely to end up doing one of those coveted musical appearances on Sesame Street.

I was extremely happy that traditional music was represented at the Youth Discoveries showcases. I love fiddling and step dancing, but it is a crowded field and to rise to the top you have to be really good. Andrew and Diana Dawydchak are 12 and 14 years old, respectively. They were the youngest performers at Youth Discoveries, but may be the most seasoned performers of the bunch. You don’t get to be as good as they are unless you’ve been doing it a long time. They have taken top honours at the Canadian Open in Shelburne and the Ontario Open in Bobcageon. That is no mean feat.
They are energetic and explosive, YDAndrew and Diana copybut what was the most disarming thing about them was the fact that their bio ends by saying that they are proud to be Maple Leaf’s fans. Is there anything more enchanting than the optimism of youth?

Youth Discoveries happens because of the hard work of many people. In the next year we are going to expand the program. We’ll be offering workshops on everything from performance to vocal technique and a new venue for the Final Showcase.
There is a wealth of young talent in our communities and we want to help that talent reach its audience. You can help the GBFS by letting us know abut the outstanding young performers in your community.
Join us Friday, August 17 at the Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival for the Youth Discoveries concert starting at 7pm on the Young and Hungry/Over the Hill stage
For more information visit us at

Sun Times Articles 2012 – part 7

James Keelaghan wrote a series of articles for the Owen Sound Sun Times last year as part of the lead up to Summerfolk.

July 12

My six year old, Tomas, has decided on some favourites from this year’s Summerfolk line up.

When I finished booking the artists for this summer’s festival, I loaded their music on my iPod. It’s great to have it to listen to when I am doing the programming. I set the player on shuffle and listen to it in the office or more often, in the van.
Tomas’ current van favourite is a song titled John Riley by the Paul McKenna Band. He specifically requests it to “pump him up” for T-Ball.
The song isn’t typical fare for a six year old, but I was much like Tomas when I was his age. I loved when my dad played tunes Paul Mckenna Band copylike Roddy McCorley or The Irish Rover-songs that told a good story about the adult world.
Paul’s song is about a group of Irish immigrants that are hired as mercenaries by the American army. They are sent to Texas, but get disillusioned with their commanders and switch allegiance, crossing the Rio Grande to join Santa Anna.
As Tomas goes about his six year old day, he’ll sing the chorus which he knows by heart:

Adventure calls, some men run
This is their sad story
Some get drunk on demon rum
Some get drunk on glory

It’s a catchy song with a tale to tell. Paul McKenna delivers it with an edge and a broad Scot’s accent like Dick Gaughan’s. He has a sweet high tenor voice like Paul Brady’s-it’s a voice that cuts through everything
McKenna writes great original songs like John Riley. He also a great interpreter of traditional song. His version of The Mermaid is as sweet as any I have heard.
The band part of the Paul McKenna Band is an energetic bothy style ensemble-rollicking melodies on fiddle, bouzouki, tenor guitar, flutes, whistles and percussion.
They come from Glasgow, a hard working town with a  proud working class history. Paul and the band tend to sing about the underdog, the working people. They do it by showing, rather than telling-picking a story like John Reilly  to highlight something universal in the human character. It’s not a stuffy history lesson, because when the band kicks its heels up they’ll have you dancing in the aisles-or air dancing in the booster seat, like Tomas.

We now hit the part of the van ride where Tomas would like some private time in the second row. For this he must get his two and half year old brother Patrick to sleep.

He chooses the most achingly beautiful song in the whole playlist. It’s by Chic Gamine. The song is J’attends (que tu sois la). The lyric, very roughly translated from the French:

The cold, snow falling on the balcony.
The heat, the flowers bordering the house
You discover them,
Spring, fall and summer.
Winter heralds the end of the year.
Your first words, first steps, …
… but now I wait, you’re here.

I wish you could put your ear up to the newspaper and hear it. Four voices and percussion. That’s it, that’s all it needs.

Winnipeg vocalists Alexa Dirks, Ariane Jean, Andrina Turenne and Annick Bremault recruited Montreal drummer and percussionist Sacha Daoud, and between them they created Chic Gamine. They have rewritten the definition of girl group with original lyrics in both English and French. They write smart, confident songs, as sweet as that lullaby your mother sang to you, as heart stopping as your first kiss.ChicGamineGREYPhoto

Since they got together in 2008, they have refined their songwriting and performance. The attention to detail and arrangements have landed them some plum gigs. They opened for Smokey Robinson. After sharing a stage with the legendary Mavis Staples she told them that they reminded her of her family, The Staples Singers.

You can hear Gospel in what they do. You can hear R&B and some French Chanson. Their voices are true to all of it.
I came to know the group mainly through Andrina. I met her at rehearsals for a Christmas event the Winnipeg Folk Festival put on every year. She was 16 at the time and a natural singer. She was one of my “go to” background vocalists on a couple of recordings. What I love about her, I love about Chic Gamine. They take the complex and make it seem simple. They take the difficult and make it seem easy. They sing because they were born to it.

In the van the other day, Tomas started asking questions. Who was Santa Anna? Where is the Rio Grande? He also started to translate French lyrics for me; “ oiseau: that means bird, Dad”.
Music at it’s best doesn’t just make the drive shorter, it makes our world wider.

The Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival begins in 4 weeks time on August 17 and continues through the 19th.

You can find more information and tickets at
For more about The Paul McKenna Band visit
For more information about Chic Gamine visit

Sun Times Articles 2012 – part 6

James Keelaghan wrote a series of articles for the Owen Sound Sun Times last year as part of the lead up to Summerfolk.

July 5th – Andersen and Vishtèn

All the great parties are kitchen parties. The reason has to do with time and motion. The kitchen is where the food is. If you are in the kitchen you are not far from the beer. If you are playing tunes, you don’t want to be far from the snacks or the beer. That’s why I believe that kitchens are the essential transmitters of culture.

Vishtèn, Emmanuelle and Pastelle Leblanc and Pascal Miousse, is a band that’s a product of kitchen culture.
The twin sisters are from the Evangeline on PEI, Pascal is from the Magdalene Islands. They are part of an Acadian community that has managed to thrive despite the odds.

The Acadians found refuge on PVishtenPhotorince Edward Island after the 1755 deportations. There were over 4000 of them on the island in 1760 but by 1768 there were only a couple of hundred left. They fished out of small villages like Tracadie and Rustico. It was a hard life, but their culture survived. In their kitchens and living rooms one generation handed the music to the next.

Pascal, Emmanuelle and Pastelle play the kind of music that can only be created by people who have had music in their lives since birth. They grew up in households where fiddle music was commonplace. Their musical parents opened their home night after night to local and traveling players. Musical jams into the wee hours were a regular occurrence. They learned their craft from their parents and from local legends like Bertrand Deraspe and Louise Arsenault.

Step dancing led to piano training. Piano led to accordion, then to fiddles, guitars, whistles, jaw harps and a host of other instruments.  The step dancing circled back and became foot percussion.

They’ve taken all that heritage and training and distilled it into an exciting, haunting and evocative nectar. It has the pulse and the soul of L’Acadie. It lays the foundation for the next chapter in Acadian musical culture.


Last summer, I was lying in the grass at the Calgary Folk Festival listening to a blues workshop that my brother’s band was playing in. This is strange for two reasons.
First, it’s very rare that I am at music festival just hanging out.
Second, I’m very picky when it comes to the blues.
Reclining, as I was, I could hear the music, but couldn’t see the players. They were all good, but the fourth guy in the rotation was great. Really, really, great. I thought, “That guys got to be from Mississippi”


In fact, Matt Andersen is from Perth Andover, New Brunswick.

Matt is a a big hearted man. He has fingers like sausages that shouldn’t be able to play the way they do. He has a voice like a hurricane-a perfect storm of emotion and power.

Like Vishtèn’s, Matt’s childhood was full of music. His grandparents and parents played. No gathering was complete without fiddles and guitars.

He learned tuba and trumpet  but guitar playing and singing became his passion. While Matt studied studio engineering, he earned money playing in top 40 bands.

He might have been content playing in cover bands in New Brunswick but somewhere along the way the blues discovered him. Since then, the blues has been taking him on quite a trip.

In the past 18 moths he’s released his latest CD, toured on three continents and won a Juno award. At the Maple Blues Awards he won a stunning trifecta taking home hardware for all three of the categories he was nominated in-Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and Acoustic Act of the Year.

He’s played with bands, but I like him best when he is solo. There is nothing to distract from his voice-from the purity of his high notes and the rumble of his lows. There is nothing to distract from his gutsy guitar playing.

Matt says he fell in love with the blues because of it’s honesty. He returns the favour by playing it honestly. That’s the most compelling thing about Matt’s music.
he sings it and plays it like he means it.

In every great kitchen party, when the fiddles and accordions take a break, there’s always a singer who can belt out a tune. Matt is that guy.

Summerfolk is glad to welcome Matt Andersen and Vishtèn to our kitchen party at Kelso Beach.

Summerfolk happens August 17, 18, 19

For information on Vishtèn visit
For Matt Andersen
For information or Summerfolk tickets visit

Sun Times Articles 2012 – part 5

James Keelaghan wrote a series of articles for the Owen Sound Sun Times last year as part of the lead up to Summerfolk.

Gunning and Miles

If Dave Gunning had a motto it would be “There’s a song in there somewhere.”

In mid October 2008, I was in Cape Breton for the Celtic Colours Festival. Artistic Director Joella Foulds had invited six writers to collaborate on the creation of an evening worth of music. She put us in a house on the main street of Baddeck.  We had a week to write somewhere between 12 and 16 songs, all on the theme of homecoming.

No pressure?

The writers were Rose Cousins, David Francey, Lori Watson, Karine Polwart, Dave Gunning and yours truly – James Keelaghan.

We took turns writing in pairs. When Dave Gunning and I got together, I asked him if he had any specific ideas. “Yeah,” he said, “I’d like to write a hanging song.”

I was a bit taken aback.  Death on a gallows is not what springs to mind when I think of homecoming songs. While there are some great hanging songs- Long Black Veil and The Night Before Larry Was Stretched come to mind, I think its fair to say the form has long fallen out of fashion.Dave Gunning Photo_by_mat_dunlap

Over the next two days, we would revisit the hanging tune, and each time the song became more real. Dave found a path that led from homecoming to hanging, creating a totally believable story. On the Wednesday it was finished.

Dave sang the song in the first set of the concert in Sydney. The Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia was in the front row. During the song, she sat bolt upright, her eyes firmly set on Dave. She was totally involved, not moving a muscle.

During the break in the green room, the LG was announced. When she came into the room she made a bee line for Dave, shook his hand and gushed,“ I certainly wasn’t expecting a hanging song!”

There’s a couple of reasons why Dave can get even the Vice Regal representative excited about a hanging song. He has a keen eye for a good story and he’s utterly charming on stage and off.

Tall and gangly in the way that men from Pictou County are, he’s your little brother. He’s every mother’s son. He’s the guy that makes you party too late and  the guy who just played you a hanging song and made you believe it. If I was him, I would have already turned this article into a song.

That week remains one of the highlights of my life.

Since that experience, I play a little game with myself. I imagine which writers I with whom I would love to be locked up with – if the chance every came again.  As always, topping my list is Lynn Miles.

The problem with the term singer songwriter is its over-use. Some people are great singers but mediocre songwriters. Some are great songwriters, but don’ t really have the pipes needed to be a good singer.

Then there are the rare few that actually live up to being truly both singer and songwriter

Lynn’s voice is eternally youthful, packed with emotion and colour that can only come from years of experience. If she didn’t write, I’d go to hear her sing other people’s songs.

The songs she writes are razor sharp. There’s not a wasted note or lyric.
Lynn has that rare ability to take the personal and make it universal. She can also step into a character sing about more than herself.

In her mournful mining ballad, “Black Flowers” she sums up the desolation of a mining town by observing:

The Undertaker, he’s a busy man
He’s got a clean blue shirt
He’s got soft pink hands
He’s got a paved driveway
And a brand new car
And Black Flowers grow in my yard.

Verses like that are the reason that I would love to spend a week in a house with her, figuring out how she manages to distill something that profound into 36 words.LynnMiles4

It’s not the only reason. She is also great company. She’s well read, a great conversationalist and has a quick dry wit. As a friend of mine once said,
“ She’s wicked smart!”

You’ll want to see Lynn and Dave on the main stage, but you shouldn’t miss them in workshops. Allow yourself the pleasure of seeing them in a spontaneous setting where the unexpected can happen. They will not disappoint.

Summerfolk is proud to welcome two of Canada’s finest singer songwriters to Owen Sound.

For more information please visit us at
Visit Lynn at
Visit Dave at

Sun Times Articles 2012 – part 1

James Keelaghan wrote a series of  articles for the Owen Sound Sun Times last year as part of the lead up to Summerfolk.

Article 1, Rogers and Prescott

In my family, for generations, there has been no discernible musical talent. Nurses, policemen, union organizers, merchant sailors, farmers, yes, but there is no mention of musical talent anywhere. My brother Bob and I seem to be the trailblazers in that regard.

Some families, however, seem to ooze musical talent, and it doesn’t seem to skip a generation. Two performers from this year’s summerfolk illustrate the point. Nathan Rogers and Kelly Prescott.

Nathan, of course, is the son of Canadian Music Icon Stan Rogers. From the patented Rogers hairline to the diesel engine of a voice he’s proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

He learned guitar riffs from his brother Dave, his sister Beth coached him vocally and he drank it all in and the result is one of the most dynamic Canadian acoustic performers in a decade. Close your eyes while he’s on stage and you’ll hear the past, but if you open your eye’s you’ll see the future, because Nathan stands in no-one’s shadow. He incorporates Tuvan throat singing into his tunes. His songwriting owes more to the urban realities of modern Canada than to the sweeping landscapes of his father.

He has also inherited more than a touch of the theatre from his mother, Ariel Rogers. Nathan will be appearing at DRYBONES WEB ONLY copySummerfolk as part of the trio Dry Bones, with JD Edwards and Leonard Podolak ( and incidentally, Leonard is the son of Mitch Podolak, creator of the  Winnipeg and Vancouver Folk festivals, and a man who had a steadying hand on Summerfolk in its early years).

Travel up the road a few hours from where Nathan was raised and just outside Ottawa you’ll find the place that another musical family has put down roots. When your maternal grandfather is Joe Brown and your paternal grandfather is Irwin Prescott; when your grandparents and your parents have over 20 charted country music hits there must be a little pressure on you. Meet Kelly Prescott, daughter of Randall and Tracey ( Prescott-Brown), granddaughter of Joe Brown (the Family Brown) and of Irwin Prescott.

That’s quite a pedigree and she lives up to it. The National Post this year named her as one of the 5 acts most likely to break out and while that’s often the kiss of death to an artists career, Prescott has all the chops she needs to succeed. A smokey voice as engaging as any you’ve ever heard on the country music scene, an engaging stage presence and a knack for making it all seem effortless and natural.

Her sound tends to the classic, rather than the new country. In fact, she has had great deal of success and accolades playing and singing the part of Emmy Lou Harris in Michael Bate’s Grievous Angel:The Gram Parson’s Story. Her voice was much sought after and you can find her backing vocals on cd’s by Jeremy Fisher and Susan Aglukark. After releasing a cd with her brother Kaylen and an impressive solo debut cd, Kelly found her comfort zone with The Claytones. Along with bassist Adam Puddington and Anders Drerup on guitar, they are one of the sweetest trios I have heard in a long time. The Claytones copyThe harmonies are impeccable, the choice of material, original and covers, is well suited to their voices and talents.

Folk music is, at its heart, about generations and the handing down of traditions and styles. It’s not about going viral, but about producing music that will last for hundreds of years, that will be passed down to children and grandchildren.

The 37th edition of Summerfolk is proud to be part of that tradition.

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